Regina Spektor | 10.15.06

Spektor equally balanced choice cuts from Kitsch and Hope, the former showcasing her punk roots and the latter her songstress capabilities.


Park West, Chicago

With the release of her third album, Begin to Hope, this past summer, Russian-bred chanteuse Regina Spektor began to reach a bigger audience. Spektor graces her fans with her hybrid of soul, blues, jazz, and pop songs ranging from melancholy musings on romance to whimsical banter on "November Rain." While she sings like Billie Holiday one minute, the next she's talking fast and enunciating her lyrics, making the listener want to cry and laugh simultaneously.

Park West is a perfect venue for Spektor—its refined balconies, tables, and no-smoking policy enhanced her truly enthralling performance. Spektor walked on stage under only two spotlights, instantly creating an intimate feel. She sang "Ain't No Cover" a cappella while tapping on the mic, her shrill voice filling the room and casting a spell on the predominantly female audience. The song ended and the crowd yelled and cheered her awesome presence. "Chicago just got a lot warmer," she said.

For the next few songs—taken from early demos and her second album, Soviet Kitsch—she sat at the piano and performed by herself. The room was completely hushed; no one could take their eyes off her. She played "Baby Jesus," a funny song about buying a Jesus statue from the 99-cent store, followed by an equally arousing song, "Bobbing for Apples." Spektor sang, "Someone next door's fucking to one of my songs," triggering many giggles from the responsive crowd.

Spektor finally transitioned into tracks from Begin to Hope with "That Time." Finally, her backup band materialized—drummer, guitarist, and bassist—to join her for "On the Radio," a spellbinding pop song that sounded even better live, and a heavier track, "Apres Moi." Next, she and the band played a rockin' rendition of her signature Begin to Hope single, "Fidelity."

For the remainder of the set, Spektor equally balanced choice cuts from Kitsch and Hope, the former showcasing her punk roots and the latter her songstress capabilities. The set's penultimate song, "Summer in the City," a delicate and potent song on lost love, shifted into the stimulating set closer, "Sailor Song." Spektor profusely thanked the crowd for coming out.

For the encore, Spektor came back without the band, once again at the piano, lit by two lone spotlights. When she busted into "Ghost of Corporate Future," the mirror ball above the theater began to spin, showering purple rays onto the stage. Spektor stopped midway through the song to comment on the ball and the audience cracked up with her. She went on to play three more songs, including Hope's "Field Below," the best track from Kitsch, "Us," and the unreleased track "Music Box." Audience members' shouted requests were ignored as Spektor closed out the encore with "Samson" and "Hotel Song."

Spektor's strengths lie in both her material and her unpretentious performances. Her audience loves her and she loves them right back. For this show, all Regina Spektor needed was her stunning voice, a few instruments, and a spotlight…and she was golden.

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